The church is now on the National Historical
Register. My great grandfather Joh. Joseph Wilms
(Willms, Williams), who moved to Guttenberg in 1898,
is supposed to have been the original painter
and gilder of St. Mary's in Guttenberg, as well
as painting other churches in the area and across the
river in Grant County, Wisconsin, where he settled
after immigrating in May 1883. The two living
granddaughter's recall only that he did St. Mary's
and in Wisconsin, St. Charles Borremeo.
Good luck and persistence in research has netted me
lot of records in the Eifel region town of
Blankenheim, Germany, where Joh. Joseph Wilms was
born in 1856, "painter craftsman Joh.
Joseph" married in 1882 to Anna Helena
"Magdalena" Pauli / Pauly, and where their
first child, a son Heinrich Joseph, was born Jan.
1883. In March they sailed from
Hamburg via LeHavre and arrived May 1, 1883 on the SS
Gellert. I (by wonderful luck) have the text of
3 letters they wrote back to Blankenheim in 1883 and
1884. In the 2 letters Joh. Joseph wrote, he
wrote his friend Joseph Klein about going to
Milwaukee to sharpen his skills under an English
Master painter--and then wrote of his difficulty
getting himself established in the small town of Glen
Haven, Wis--saying perhaps he should have gone to a
larger town when he immigrated. However, I know
that he had some Klinkhammer and Pauli family nearby
Glen Haven. His wife's mother was a Klinkhammer, and
his wife's father had a brother Joh. Joseph Pauli who
had immigrated about 1852 and by at least the 1895
census, was living next door.
The picture shown above is of the original interior
work in St. Mary's in Guttenberg. I (by more
luck) met Carolyn Carrier in Guttenberg, as well as
talked to the Priest Martin Bries. Mrs. Carrier sent
me a small picture card of the church. The quality is
not good, but it's better than nothing---must be
enlarged to see the detail, scrolling in the vaulted
ceiling ---and the frescoes on both sides of the
photo. According to Mrs. Carrier, this is a picture
of how the church looked originally. It has been
repainted twice over the years.
~ history notes & interior photo contributed
by Audrey Williams Stanaland, Loudon, TN. Audrey's
email address can be found in the Surname
Registry under 'Wilms'